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Business Casual: Do I Have To Wear Jeans To Fit In?

Dear Classy Career Girl,
I’m interning with the government this summer, and the official dress code is business professional when the state legislature is in session, business casual when not in session. However, if they are not in session and the boss is not in the office, then the staff all comes to work in jeans.

Now, I’m really not comfortable wearing jeans and a casual top to work. How can I go to a briefing or stand next to government officials in an elevator while dressed so casually? Also, I feel more confident when wearing a well put-together outfit. Since everyone else in my office does so, should I just suck it up and pull out my jeans? Or is it okay to stick with business casual since that’s what I’m comfortable with?

Thanks so much,

Confused Career Girl

Business Casual Rules: Are Jeans a Must?

Dear Confused Career Girl,
Congrats on the internship! It sounds like a great experience! I have worked for the government in the past also and my clients would wear jeans on Fridays. The only difference was that I couldn’t wear jeans because my company didn’t allow it.  Jeans have a way of making you feel lazy and relaxed. Although it might be nice to be relaxed at work, if you are too relaxed you won’t get any work done!
People do take notice of the clothes you wear and it if your workplace is business casual, it is okay to dress just a little better than most of the people around you. Just because everyone else is wearing jeans doesn’t mean you have to.  I don’t think you should wear a suit or dress because that would make you appear overdressed.

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But, I would recommend the middle ground to help you stand out from all of the other interns who are really enjoying wearing jeans to work. Instead of jeans, I would wear khakis, a skirt or professional capri pants. Also, I would never wear a casual top. Instead, I would wear a blouse or collared shirt that you would normally wear under a suit jacket. If you ever do decide to wear jeans one day, make sure you wear the right jeans that are dark, no holes and not too tight (aka you didn’t buy them in high school! 🙂
I think you need to wear what you are most comfortable in and NOT what everyone else is wearing.  You will perform better if you are confident in your well put together outfit!
Good luck! 
— Classy Career Girl

Readers, can you wear jeans in a business casual office? Do you feel confident and professional in jeans?  What’s your advice for Confused Career Girl?

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